[You can ask your own question here.]
How can i strengthen the relationship between me and my parents? How would i bring more love and kinship towards us? I think i m not in the best of terms with them. Please advice.
In order to be in right relationship with your parents, or anyone else in your family, you have to first remove the obscuring clouds of sentimentality and subconscious expectations.
Master tells us that when the sperm and ovum unite, there is a flash of light in the astral world, and those souls who are in tune with the vibration of that light (and ready to reincarnate) are drawn to enter that womb. He said sometimes more than one soul is drawn, so not everyone gets in, or sometimes there are twins.
Despite these false starts, you do end up where you are karmically meant to be. Swamiji has explained, however, that you can be “in tune with that flash of light” because of just a few aspects of those people or that situation.
Perhaps your interest is music and that family will give you the opportunity to develop that. Perhaps you need a peaceful environment, in a certain cultural setting, and that family is ideal. Perhaps all you want is money. Or maybe your karma is to be poor. All of that is contained in the flash of light and can draw you.
In other words, just because you are born into a family does not automatically mean you will have a deep affinity with everyone, or even anyone, in that family.
Yes, sometimes you do incarnate where there are profound bonds of heart and soul. But not always.
Master also said, sometimes enemies are drawn into the same family. Hatred also forms a strong karmic bond. The benefit is that, as enemies, Master said, you can “fight it out at close quarters.”
Sometimes a person will deliberately choose a family where the karmic connection is very light. Maybe that soul has been burdened by excessive family entanglements and wants a break from that kind of emotion.
Or, if the soul is a serious devotee, he may want to “get a body where he can,” as Swamiji put it, and then go on and find his spiritual family. Having a light connection with the birth family makes it easier to leave them behind.
Consider also, given the countless incarnations we have had, how many fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers, children, cousins, uncles, aunts we have had in the course of all our lifetimes! When we go to the astral world, Master says, we see all these various relatives in a vast array and it helps us appreciate that we are born to love everyone equally, not to divide the world up into “I, me, and mine.”
Once someone asked Swamiji about her relationship with her parents. She was, it turned out, one who had “gotten a body where she could” in order to come as a young adult into her spiritual family, which was far more her family than those who birthed and raised her.
She was asking Swamiji how to relate appropriately to her parents.
He asked, “Do they oppose your spiritual life? Have they ever asked you to choose between them and your spiritual family?”
She replied, “No, they are not fond of what I am doing, but nor have they opposed it. And they have never asked me to choose. If they did, there would be no contest: human birth is something, but divine birth is everything, as Master said. In fact, they have been kind, respectful and supportive all my life.”
“In that case,” Swamiji replied, “you have a debt of gratitude to them and should always treat them as they have treated you: kindly and respectfully.”
The woman followed Swamiji’s advice, and kept up an appropriate relationship with them for the rest of their lives: visiting, writing, keeping in touch, and, toward the end of their lives, helping them as needed.
But she never expected anything more. They had very little in common, and no amount of effort on her part could change that. But they never did anything to warrant her coldness or mistreatment, so she always responded with appropriate respect and warmth.
Now, to your case. You have to assess your situation in the light of these considerations. Have your parents been respectful and helpful to you? Are they good people or have they abused their position as parents? If the relationship is abusive (rather than merely distant) it may be appropriate to separate yourself more from them. You will have to consider that carefully.
However, if it is merely a matter of lack of affinity, and they have given you no reason to cut them off, then you owe them a debt of gratitude for raising you. If you want to be closer to them, I suggest you begin by trying to understand your parents as people completely separate from their relationship to you.
Do they have friends? Do they have interests? What are their hobbies? What is their cultural and spiritual background? If you met them on the street what kind of an impression would they make?
Children continually take from their parents and seldom even imagine that their parents have a separate living reality. If you want to make an adult relationship with them, you have to come yourself to a state of maturity and cultivate their friendship as if you were meeting them for the first time.
What do they like to talk about? What do they like to do? How can you bring into your relationship with them a freshness and genuine interest in their well-being?
Parents sacrifice on a level a child can’t even imagine just to feed, clothe, raise, and educate you. If you want to improve your relationship with them, give back. The relationship at this point is not about you; it is about them. Even if your interest in what interests them is assumed only for the sake of the relationship, they certainly embraced your reality when you were growing up. Time to return the favor.
If they are asking of you things that are not appropriate for you to give, i.e., choosing a way of life, partner, career, location that doesn’t suit you, you don’t have to do what they want just because they are your parents.
But if you do have to disappoint them in fundamental ways, then try to please them in every other way you can. Be very attentive to remembering them on holidays, to contact them regularly, to focus on their interests and needs, to give them small gifts, to send them news and information that reflects their interests.
If, after all this effort, it proves that your parents simply don’t have the capacity to rise to a mature relationship with you, then you can adjust to whatever is realistic, with the confidence in your heart that you’ve done what you can.
And, of course, pray. Hold them in the light. Thank God and Gurus for the gift of life through them. And thank them for all they had to do to raise you. Ask that the Masters bless them and guide them on their own spiritual journey. Even if there is little outward communion between you and your parents, you can give them a great deal just through prayer, and in that way, fulfill your duty to them.
[Questions and answers from other Ananda ministers worldwide can be found on the Ask the Experts page of Ananda.org.]